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  1. Mediterranean diet can keep pounds off for good

    No gimmicks -- but it works

    Trendy diets come and go all the time. Cleansing diets, cookie diets, celebrity diets and how many people out there have a juicer gathering dust in a forgotten corner of the kitchen?

    Don't be shy, you're not alone -- Jack LaLanne was an excellent salesman.

    But there's one diet that's withstood both the test of time and rigorous scientific scrutiny. In fact, it's aced just about every study that's come its way.

    It doesn't make headlines because there are no gimmicks, no devices to buy, and no celebrities to endorse it.

    But it works.

    It's the Mediterranean diet, a sensible lifestyle with a wide range of healthy food choices that's scientifically proven to help people to lose weight and keep it off -- and a new study shows that it succeeds where most other diets fail.

    And that's in the long term.

    After six years, moderately overweight volunteers who tried a Mediterranean diet lost more weight -- and kept more weight off -- than those who were assigned to either a low-carb or low-fat diet.

    What makes this study even more amazing is that it only lasted two years, officially.

    In that time -- during the official study -- both low-carbers and those on the Mediterranean diet lost an average of about 10 pounds, while those who went low-fat lost 6.4 pounds.

    Then, they were free to go ahead and do whatever they wanted. Amazingly, not everyone ran right out to McDonald's. Many of them stuck to their diets, on their own.

    And four years after the study ended -- six years after it began -- everyone regained some weight, but the Mediterranean dieters regained the least.

    They were 7 pounds lighter overall, on average, while the low-carbers were nearly 4 pounds lighter. Those on the low-fat diet, on the other hand, regained nearly everything.

    The benefits didn't end there. The patients who stuck to the Mediterranean diet had the biggest improvements in LDL cholesterol levels, and just about tied with the low-carbers for improvements in triglycerides.

    The study didn't track everything, but we know from other research that people who follow the Mediterranean diet get a bunch of other great benefits, too -- including a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and more.

    One study I told you about recently even found that Mediterranean dieters have better overall physical function and mental health, higher levels of vitality, and lower levels of pain.

    It's not just that the Mediterranean diet is better than all the other diets, although that's certainly part of it.

    No, the real reason is that many diets -- even the healthy ones -- are often far too difficult for people to follow over the long term. Who can count calories every day? Who has the willpower to give up bread forever? Who can live off "low fat" foods all the time?

    The Mediterranean lifestyle solves all those problems and more by offering a wide range of delicious foods, few sacrifices, and absolutely no math.

    Just stick to sensible portions and give up fast food, processed foods, and the worst of the snacks and you'll find out firsthand why this diet doesn't just work -- it lasts.

  2. Chili pepper compound capsaicin can lower cholesterol

    Chili pepper spice can boost heart health

    Here's some good news for all you lovers of spicy foods: A key compound found in chili peppers can help protect your heart.

    That compound is capsaicin, part of a family of compounds called capsaicinoids, and it's long been recognized for its heart-friendly benefits (along with another I'll tell you about in a moment). And now, a new study finds it can slash levels of LDL cholesterol and improve overall arterial health.

    Researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong gave two sets of hamsters a high-fat diet with one difference: One set of hamsters got plenty of capsaicinoids in their diet, while the other got none.

    Those that got all those spicy capsaicinoids had lower levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol. More importantly, the capsaicin also blocked the gene that causes arteries to contract -- allowing blood to flow more freely to the heart.

    It's a small study on hamsters, but it's not the first to find capsaicin can protect the heart. Other studies have shown that this spicy compound can help slash your triglycerides, thin your blood and reduce the damage of oxidation in your arteries.

    The only "catch" here is that capsaicin is the same compound that gives peppers their heat. Habanero peppers and Scotch bonnets, for example, have the most -- and not everyone can handle those.

    If you can't take the heat yourself, you can get capsaicin in capsule form.

    Capsaicin is also a key ingredient in some very effective pain-relief balms for people suffering from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, shingles, diabetic neuropathy, and more.

    And for pain relief, you'll want a topical balm rather than capsules or Scotch bonnets.

    You'll actually feel the heat when you rub it in -- it might even hurt a little at first. And whatever you do, don't touch your eyes or any other sensitive spots after handling it, or you'll be in for the sting of your life.

    One important safety note: Don't take capsaicin in any form if you're on blood-thinning medication.

  3. Soda scare: Sugary drinks linked to new heart risk

    Any time I use the words "soda" and "study" in the same sentence, it's never good news for soda. I can't recall a single study that shows soda benefits anything other than the bank accounts of the people who sell it. And the latest research is no exception.
  4. The trans fat lie harming your health

    Everyone's terrified of trans fats these days, and it's not hard to see why: They've been so vilified that some places are actually banning them. Must be something to it, right? There is -- because the trans fats that come from hydrogenated vegetable oils are every bit as bad as their reputation, and then some: They'll up your odds of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, depression and more.
  5. The part-time diet that really works

    Researchers put women on a low-carb diet up against women on a low-calorie diet -- but with a huge catch: The low-carb eaters would stick to the plan for just two days a week… and eat whatever they wanted the rest of the time.
  6. Low salt comes with high risk

    Next time your doctor says "cut back on the salt, or else" ask him one question. Or else what?
  7. Brain stents kill stroke patients

    Six years ago, the feds rushed the approval of brain stents for patients facing a high risk of stroke, claiming they needed to act quickly on "compassionate" grounds.
  8. The natural way to beat inflammation

    Inflammation has gone from a condition you should worry about to a marketing buzzword used to sell everything from drugs to juice to cereal. Well, at least they got it half right: You should worry about inflammation, and do what you can to bring your own levels down.
  9. Heart risk for aspirin quitters

    Despite what you've heard from decades of TV commercials, the last thing your heart needs to help it keep beating is a daily dose of aspirin.
  10. Government guidelines lead to heart disease

    The U.S. government's dietary guidelines released last year allow people to get as much as 25 percent of their calories from added sugars. If it's not immediately obvious why that's a bad idea, a new study spells it out.
  11. Diabetics can go nuts

    Well whaddaya know -- it turns out small changes in your diet can lead to small changes in your health. Researchers asked diabetics to replace a little of their daily carbs with either more carbs or nuts... and found that those who went nuts had slight improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
  12. The rising tide of metabolic syndrome

    It's metabolic syndrome, a perfect storm of the five risk factors that leads to diabetes and heart disease: belly fat, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and low levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol.
  13. Repairing the heart—and the soul

    Many people who undergo heart bypass surgery find themselves battling an unexpected side effect: depression.

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